Guide to Planning a Trip to Thailand with Kids

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“We’re really going to have to watch the girls when we are in Thailand,” I said to Craig, “especially walking down the street. You know how chaotic they are with overhanging wires, bumpy pavers, and tuk tuks and motorbikes zooming by.”

people standing in front of a temple
Visiting the Grand Palace Bangkok

When I first started planning a trip to Thailand with kids, my mother’s mind had kicked into gear, imagining every possible danger and working out a commando move in advance.

It’s the world of illogical fear that bursts into your life the minute your babe opens its mouth for that first gasp of air.

I’ve learned not to fight it, but to instead use it as a preparation tool and a reminder to always be alert when travelling with our kids.

But if you’re trying to plan a trip to Thailand with your family and you’re not sure what to consider, don’t worry, because I have done the motherly fretting for you, and listed all the things you should know before you go.

Tips for Planning a Trip to Thailand with Kids

Below are some commonly asked questions and answers for those thinking of taking a family vacation to Thailand and are not sure where to start.

Let’s begin with location…

1. Choose the right place to visit

villas and palm trees on a beach
Koh Lanta

Where you visit in Thailand will largely depend on what you want to see and do, how much time you have, your budget and comfort levels.

There are many exciting and memorable places to visit in Thailand, and it’s easier to say where not to go than where to go, as generally most places are safe, affordable and interesting.

Most of the time, you cannot really avoid Bangkok, which is the bustling capital of Thailand. Bangkok is an incredible place with so much to see and do with the family.

For a more cultural experience, head to Chiang Mai where you will find lots of temples, elephant sanctuaries and national parks to hike in. Chiang Rai is also nearby and is where you will find the famous White Temple.

For beach vacations, consider Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and The Phi Phi Islands, which are all popular family destinations and have stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters.

To go a little bit more untraveled, try Koh Lanta, Krabi and Ao Nang, Koh Lipe, Koh Kood, Koh Tao, and Koh Chang. They are quieter, but still have plenty to see and do as a family.

Personally, I would avoid staying on Koh Phi Phi (maybe a day trip) and Patong Beach in Phuket and Koh Phangan during the full moon party time.

These places attract the younger backpacker crowds, partiers and those looking to explore some of Thailand’s seedier attractions. They are not really the most family friendly places at night, so best to avoid them.

2. Choose the right time to visit

longtail boat in the water at ko lipe

Most tourists visit Thailand for the winter because its the dry season, and so it brings beautiful, warm weather with little chance of rain.

The best time to visit is December – January, but it will be busy as it is peak season, so I recommend you book your accommodation and transport in advance.

You should be able to book tours and attractions last minute, but no later than the morning before (tours will likely sell out by the evening before).

It’s best to avoid the spring season. April is the hottest time in Thailand, and I mean HOT! But you can cool off with the Songkran Festival (the throwing of water) as Thais and tourists roam the streets with containers of water or water guns and drench each other and passersby.

Another reason why April is hot is because of pollution in Northern Thailand. This time of year is when farmers burn their fields in the north, which makes tourist destinations like Pai and Chiang Mai unvisitable, and all the locals head to the islands to escape it.

So again, book in advance if you visit Southern Thailand during this time of year.

The rainy season is May to October (mind you it’s mostly just sudden downpours that cool you down. I however, was once stuck in my bungalow on the beach in Koh Samui for two days during torrential rain.)

The rainy season is a much cheaper and less crowded time to visit Thailand. Think of how much your kids will love to play in all that rain.

Longtail boat - best transport on the islands
Longtail boat – best transport on the islands

3. Get Travel Insurance for Travelling to Thailand with kids

Makepeace family posing in front of james bond island phuket

A repeated mantra of ours:

If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.

Especially with kids. Make sure you are covered for any activities you may be doing that require extra coverage. If you intend on riding a scooter, cover yourself with insurance. It is far too risky not to! (You do need an international licence in order for the insurance to be valid if driving a scooter yourself).

World Nomads is also a good insurance and you can read more in our post about the best travel insurance for Australians travelling overseas.

4. Choose your transportation in Thailand wisely

caz in long tail boat with savannah on lap and kalyra sitting behind

I would so love to buzz around on the back of a motorbike with the girls. It’s one of my favourite things to do in Southeast Asia. My crazy mother’s mind is far too off stepping into that DIScomfort zone.

I know some parents who do it with their children (including babies and have no issues. Thai people do all the time)

Do whatever suits your comfort level and never push that.

I will probably take the girls in the back of a tuk tuk, for a short ride around a neighbourhood area, not on the open highway, however. I feel pretty safe in one, and I am sure I will be riding the drivers back to take it slow and not do Michael Schumaker corners.

I think it’s safe enough adventure for them and will help them to stretch their comfort zones.

motorcycles parked on the side of a road
Tuk Tuk

In Thailand, there are plenty of buses, public songthaws and mini-vans to get around in. Also, know that in any vehicle you get into there will be no seatbelts. Makes for a fun journey trying to keep toddler still.

The best way to get around Bangkok is the super efficient, clean, and cheap SkyTrain (BTS). If that doesn’t take you where you need to go, try the subway (MRT).

Bangkok's sky train at station
Bangkok’s SkyTrain

5. Be Sure to Try Street Food in Thailand

stay sticks on open grill
BBQ chicken

OMG I can’t wait to eat off the carts with my girls. Introduce them to real eating and bloody delicious, cheap Thai food.

You can read a ton of reasons why you should eat street food, but basically, it’s supporting the local economy, it’s a cultural education, its cheap, authentic and delicious.

Keep it safe – go to the places that are busy with the locals. You can watch the vendors cook the food in front of you anyway and eat it hot after all the bugs have been killed off.

You may also want to order a less spicy dish for the kids such as Pad Thai or a Mango Sticky Rice for dessert.

Another great place to eat is the food court in shopping malls, where you can find meals for less than 50 thai baht per meal, which when dining as a family, is a huge amount you can save.

6. Book a resort with a Kid’s Club

kalyra with painted face at kids club
Kalyra loves Kids Club

You will find there are so many places to stay in Thailand, from affordable budget to super luxury. I recommend you look for a family-friendly resort with a kids club, especially if you’re visiting beach destinations.

The kids clubs are fun and enjoyable for kids, and it also gives the adults some time to enjoy activities that the kids wouldn’t be able to do such as scuba diving or watching a Muay Thai Fight.

Just because you are traveling as a family doesn’t mean you need to spend every moment together. I’m not saying dump your kids in a kid’s club for the whole time, but just remember it’s everyone’s holiday too, so take advantage of the kid’s clubs!

What to Pack When Visiting Thailand with Kids

savannah sitting in stroller
Stroller time out in Phuket

No, I don’t mean helmets or suits of armour, although a visit to your local apothecary might be a good solution!

Ensure that you buy all the supplies needed to keep baby’s skin as soft and supple as the day they were born: sunscreen, mosquito repellant (deet free) hats, long sleeved shirts, rashies.

You can buy most things in Thailand, but you might not find the same brands you use back home.

Below are some of the recommended items you should pack:

  • Pack a first aid kit. Stock it with panadol, antibiotics, sterilized needles, band-aids, antiseptic cream, bandages and any medication your child may personally need. A doctor’s letter to verify this is sometimes a good idea. Here’s a handy checklist of what to pack in your travel medical kit. 
  • If your child has any food allergies (or yourself), carry a card with what they can’t eat written in Thai. For celiacs or gluten-free requirements, I found this Thai travel card.
  • If you have an infant, take any formula that your baby may need with you as well as enough nappies (including swimmer nappies) just to be sure.
  • Another travel product for babies I recommend is the Baby Bjorn, which is our favourite baby travel product. It gives you free hands, gives bub a front on view of the world, keeps them safe and rests their tired little legs so you can explore and enjoy.
  • Take a travel stroller. Preferably one that packs down small enough to fit on the backseat of a car as you may need to put it in the songthaews which don’t usually have a lot of space.

Clothes Packing for Thailand

kids suitcase stuffed with clothes

I am so excited about packing for Thailand because I know I don’t have to take much. (Kalyra packed her bag herself)

Finally, we will be traveling in one, predictable hot climate. Just a couple of dresses, a long sleeve shirt for temple visits, thongs/flip flops, swimmers and hats.

But don’t stress too much, you can pretty much buy anything you need once in Thailand, and leave plenty of room in your suitcase for SHOPPING! Just be sure to check your weight allowance with your particular airline.

outside of mbk center in bangkok
MBK – a mega indoor shopping market in Bangkok

Don’t forget a few toys to keep the kids busy on planes and the rare occasion they will be bored with riding elephants, building sand castles and eating street food.

Final Thoughts on Planning a Trip to Thailand with Kids

caz and the girls sitting at table drnking coconut water

Travelling to a country such as Thailand with kids can be daunting for parents, so they give up the thought before even investigating solutions to their fears.

I completely understand, and I have lived in Thailand and travelled multiple times with NEVER a problem (and I used to take many risks).

It’s a completely safe country, which is one of the reasons why I love Thailand, and there’s so much. to see and do, you’re in for an amazing Thailand vacation with your kids.

Whilst planning, being prepared is important, especially for the energy and congestion that is Bangkok, the rest of the country is very relaxed and you will find yourself slipping into Thai island life without a blink of the eye.

Just make sure you use these tips when planning a Thailand itinerary with kids, to help conquer those fears. Thailand is an amazing destination in Southeast Asia to visit as a family and I’m sure you’re going to love it as much as I do.

More Thailand Travel Tips

Need more inspiration for your Thailand trip? Then you may find these other resources helpful…

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